Fridge or Esky

Submitted: Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 17:24
ThreadID: 22549 Views:11751 Replies:18 FollowUps:7
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I am relativley new to 4wd and looking to take a few trips in the near future. I am a little unsure on the decision to buy a fridge or esky. The fridge sounds good however it is not cheap, however i recently read of esky's that are supposed to stay cold for up to 5 days. Does anyone have any advice on whether these eskies are any good or not.

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Reply By: Member - Jimbo (VIC) - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 17:33

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 17:33

A really good esky runs into hundreds of dollars. Your starting point for a fridge of 40L is about $600 (Waeco from thr Fridgeshop) or $500 for a 42L job from Supercheap. The Supercheap job is at this stage an unknown quantity however.

Keep in mind that the eskies that keep cold for days will only do so with large blocks of ice which take up a hell of a lot of the useable space.

I got by with eskies for years and once I bought a fridge, kicked myself for not doing it earlier.

If you do go with the fridge, don't get one that is too small, a bit of extra space is always handy.


AnswerID: 109090

Follow Up By: Exploder - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 18:32

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 18:32
Gday Dutts

Basically a esky will do for shorter trips but for longer ones where getting ice may be an issue a fridge is the only option.

The 5-day esky’s do work but depending on how hot it is. I have found they will keep ice for 3 day’s in hot wether and you can pick up a decent size one for $180

I my self don’t have a fridge but can borrow one from friend’s or family when needed. This is a good option if you know someone with a fridge and you would rather spend $1000 on other equipment.

$600 for a 40Ltr waeco, what modal when I looked they were around $850+ ?

FollowupID: 365801

Follow Up By: Member - Jimbo (VIC) - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:44

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:44

From the fridgeshop. (not sure if the au is there). Factory seconds, repairs, damaged stock etc (with a 1 year warranty). I got a CF80 six months ago that has had a lot of use, delivered to Melb for $990.


FollowupID: 365817

Follow Up By: BLUEBAG53 - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:47

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:47
There is always the Krivac option available from most friendly butcher outlets which goes a long way to prolonging the use by date of your perishable foodstuffs.
I have both an esky and fridge option available. If my destination and duration only warrant the esky option I always ensure I start with really good home made block ice. Chest freezer turned down to max zero temp about 5 days in advance (the logistics require freezer containers which are compatible with both your esky and freezer internal measurements), and yes the ice consumes a lot of your available esky space but if you look after your ice from day one it will do the job for around five to seven days. With the melted ice, recycle the water as whatever you desire, i.e. clean the screen, wash up etc. etc. but you have to drain the water religiously daily. Salt helps prolong the life of ice, but you have to have good ice from the outset.
In selecting an esky look for one with a drain plug (recessed) in its base. Drain plug being common thread pattern so replacements can be easily resourced,
This is almost turning into an art form, perhaps I can get a Govt subsidy!
Think two eskies. One as your freezer chest, accessed "once" a day for your requirements that day and the other smaller esky accessed at various times to support your grazing requirements.
I think the important thing what ever option you choose is spend the extra dollars and get quality in the first instance.
Question here campers, has anyone ever at the end of a days travelling, set up camp,approx 20 to 30 minutes and then opened the bonnet of whatever your driving, and removed from the exhaust manifold dinner comprising, Chicken Kiev, steamed corn, carrots, jacket potatoes and whatever green veg takes your fancy? My bride and I do this regularly when trecking. The hardest part is scraping the marinade off the tappet cove! whatever your decision enjoy this great country of ours.
FollowupID: 365819

Follow Up By: BLUEBAG53 - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 20:07

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 20:07
Check post 22520, perhaps you can agree on a temp loan!
FollowupID: 365826

Reply By: Member - TonyG (Qld) - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 18:15

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 18:15
Hi Dutts,

I went down the path of an esky initially, and found it to be a bulky item and also a hassle with gettin ice etc.

I then purchased a waeco 50ltr fridge mounted in the rear of the nissan patrol.

This was after I had installed a 2nd baqttery in the vehicle.

After having the fridge, I would recommend it to everyone, as you just turn on the fridge before you go, and load her up.

Summer is when you really notice the value of a fridge, ie cold milk, food or beer when required.

Also very handy if you are 4wding, as you have cold stuff with you in the middle of the day.

Yes it cost approx $900 for 2nd battery & extras 12 volt outlets in the car, and approx $1300 for 50ltr fridge, insulated cover and fridge slide, but money well spent for a hassle free time.

This is only my opinion, but hope it helps.


AnswerID: 109097

Reply By: Member - Browny (VIC) - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:34

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:34
Most of us 4by drivers start of with the esky and are relatively happy with it untill we eventually do a longer type of trip with no access to ice without significant travel, then you start to pyne for a fridge or if you go on a trip with some friends with a fridge and see how much easier they do it.

I'm a fairly new owner of a fridge (approx 6 months) and reckon it's money well spent! But I had a second battery installed for work purposes long before I got the fridge so the lump sum for both wasn't so hard to justify, for peace of mind I reckon you need the second battery, but your looking at somewhere near $2000 for second battery and fridge compared to a few hundred for a good esky.A big difference.

AnswerID: 109110

Follow Up By: Member - Browny (VIC) - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:44

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:44
Also Dutts,

Recently had a couple of nights away with the wife and young bloke (2 1/2) away who was getting over an ear infection and was still on some penicillan wich had to be kept at below 3C no trouble with the fridge but probably couldn't have gone with just the esky!

FollowupID: 365818

Reply By: motherhen - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:44

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:44
In this hot dry land, i have always travelled with at least an engel in the car. If you are inland, it is usually cool at night, so we turn it off, and load the drinks which have chilled overnight into it in the morning. Once when we got a good catch of fish, we turned it to freezer mode, kept the catch frozen all the way home. Gee that was a while back - a good catch if fish!
AnswerID: 109114

Reply By: robbo72 - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:59

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 19:59
hi dutts

i had a fairly big metal eski that took a lot of ice(4 bags and 3 or4 decent 2lt cordial container blocks) and they would last about 3 to4 days depending on the weather conditions and how many times you opened the lid.this took up a lot of space an a good 15 bucks every i decided to invest some money into a fridge/freezer 40lt and havent looked back since. i havent quite got the space i had with my old eski but am suprised at how much you can fit in them if you organise it .you can go for a week and not have the worry of warm beer and your meat soaking in the melted ice

i would go the fridge/freezer for sure

AnswerID: 109116

Reply By: D-Jack - Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 20:07

Sunday, May 01, 2005 at 20:07
Ice in the esky melts and wets everything. Pain in the butt. Fridge - get a good one with a pedigree of endurance and longevity, and the $1000 you pay for such a fridge like an Engel 40L (meets the above requirements) will cost $50 each year over 20 years ($50 will probably buy you a block of ice in 20 years!)

If you are serious about 4wding/camping and can afford one (even if it means sacrificing something for a while) then do it. My Engel sits in the back of the Jackaroo all the time. If we are going somewhere and need to take drinks/salad/desert I just fire it up and away we go. Worth its weight in gold.

AnswerID: 109118

Reply By: muzzgit (WA) - Monday, May 02, 2005 at 01:34

Monday, May 02, 2005 at 01:34
Like Jimbo above, I've still got the bruises where SHMBO kicked me after we got a waeco. I'm not sure, but I seem to remember it going something like this.....


Get my drift ?

After 2 or 3 days in da bush, nothin beats fresh food and COLD beer.
AnswerID: 109159

Reply By: vuduguru - Monday, May 02, 2005 at 05:34

Monday, May 02, 2005 at 05:34
Hi Dutts,

Have had Evakool Eskys for a few years now and swear by them. Forget what the fridge owners think. Tom Groggin at Christmas (35-38 deg) 6 days with 2 litre milk bottes full of frozen water (save $15). No wet food, cold fresh water (no wasted space), freezing cold beer, light weight, use them in the boat, less than $200 for 47 litres. Have 2, 1 beer, 1 food, The kids never shut them properly either. 2 bags of ice cubes last about 2-4 days depending on use.
So you see? for up to a week, esky, longer, fridge, and associated expense.
PS. dont over do it, my neighbour has a 100 litre and he and his son struggle to load a full esky into the car, ie 2 X 47's are a better option. Oh, and we are a family of 6.

AnswerID: 109160

Reply By: guzzi - Monday, May 02, 2005 at 08:49

Monday, May 02, 2005 at 08:49
Isnt it bewildering to get so many conflicting answers.
All are however relevant.
I recently covered this territory ice box VS fridge, and due to cost went the ice box.
As a few others have stated, you need to work out what you want to do.
Short trips 3 to 5 days with ice available go the ice box. If on the other hand your doing longer trips in isolated areas then the fridge is the better option.
Do a search on ice boxes on this site, the available info is staggering.
Even down to energy requirements to cool/ melt ice from its melt point
And several really good points in precooling and ice manufactureing and packing of ice boxes.
Ever get the feeling that there really is too much choice these days...........

AnswerID: 109172

Reply By: Troopy Travellers (NSW) - Monday, May 02, 2005 at 09:39

Monday, May 02, 2005 at 09:39
We were uncertain as to a fridge or freezer, but are very happy with our fridge. Last trip we took a frozen leg of lamb, it took 4 days to defrost in the fridge so we left it till we were ready for a change from bbq/stir fries.

If you go for the esky someone else has put in the tip to freeze your ice blocks in 2 litre milk or juice containers and then you have it to use and no wet food.

AnswerID: 109187

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, May 02, 2005 at 10:50

Monday, May 02, 2005 at 10:50
I have both a Fridge and an Icebox, but I would totally agree with Jimbo's comments on th type of ice.

I have a Coleman "Esky" which is better than a standard one from Coles or Big W, which is quite OK for a day trip.

Then I have a fibreglass Icebox which, given ideal conditions, will keep the ice for 5 days +.
But like Jimbo has pointed out, that is by using "block" ice and that is becoming harder to get when on the road.
My understanding is that "ideal conditions" is something like one third of the space taken up by solid ice (or dry ice) which uses up valuable storage space for the goodies. That is why I have both Fridge and Icebox for extended camping.

As good as anything is freezing milk, or orange juice containers for a minimum of a couple of weeks beforehand, BUT once that has melted, you are back to thebleepty (and quite often hollow) crushed ice that seems to be the only thing available anymore.

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 109192

Follow Up By: Penguin (NSW) - Monday, May 02, 2005 at 11:25

Monday, May 02, 2005 at 11:25
Hey SM

I too have a 3 way fridge and an Evakool ice box. I do the 2 litre milk bottle thing and when they start to melt too much, I just refreeze two at a time overnight - presto! Not too good if you're moving and the fridge is on 12V but on gas overnight it's no problem.

FollowupID: 365896

Reply By: Trev88 - Monday, May 02, 2005 at 16:43

Monday, May 02, 2005 at 16:43
Hi Dutts

I recntly purchased a engel and am looking a a duel battery for the car. The fridge is great. compared to a 40l esky it takes 40l of food. You can run the fridge of the car battery but carfuly if you do not want to run it flat.

For Ice I used to freeze milk cartons and then smash it so it all settled around all the gaps closed it up and headed off it lasted 5 days before needing extra ice. Once I went to shop ice it was every day.

Vacum sealed meat does not get water affected floting in the cold water so thats a good opption as well to egt the most life out of it.

Try hiring a fridge to see if it work for you.

Have fun camping
AnswerID: 109243

Reply By: TheUndertaker - Monday, May 02, 2005 at 18:30

Monday, May 02, 2005 at 18:30
Dutts,, esky = $ = fridge = more $ ,,bit like apples and oranges ,, a realy good esky such as a bailys/evercool will last for a lifetime and will keep ice for 5+ days depending on the variables of ice quality ,opening frequency and ambient temp ,
50/60lt evercool = $3/400 + ice over life, and useable space = 1/2 to 2/3rds ,

Fridge/freezer 50/60lt = $800 to $1600 [depending brand+] lifespan ?? 20 + yrs , convenience , correct temps ,all space useable ,extra fridge for home ,,

I now have all 4 , bailys 70 lt 7yrs old now sits in the shed
40lt chescold 3way keeps the bailys company ,
80lt waeco fridge/freezer keeps swmbo content camping ,
15lt engle fridge keeps the beer cold camping....... would never revert to using ice , remember 1 10day trip we used $200 worth of ice between 2 families just to keep drinks cold ,,fridge pays for itself in ice savings.
AnswerID: 109267

Follow Up By: Member - Jimbo (VIC) - Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 21:14

Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 21:14
That pretty much sums it up.
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Reply By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 15:24

Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 15:24
couldnt be bothered reading other replies so I will give you my personall exp I have a 5 day coleman exky´that after 2 days has nothing but slurry on cool days great for beers but stuffed for keeping produce. I love my esky but will be complementing it with a fridge:
AnswerID: 109461

Reply By: warndu - Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 21:35

Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 21:35
I can not recommend Icetek Ice chests enough I used mine for 6 day at Innaminka last week with temps around 38 each day. The esky was accessed a fair bit for drinks and food and drinks were cold still on the way home.
I used the Icetek ice packs that came with the esky and the difference of not having to empty water out every day was a pleasure.
I am not associated with the company but I'm more than willing to share my few wins in life.
here is the info on ice boxes
regards Warndu
AnswerID: 109519

Reply By: AdrianLR - Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 22:37

Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 22:37
Any esky is only as good as the insulation - every time you open it the "insulation" is gone (at least at the top). So if you use it as a drinks fridge or snack fridge the ice will melt faster. This type of use needs a powered fridge.

We have three types - an esky, an upright 3-way in the camper and recently an Autofridge. The Autofridge has made an enormous difference. We now bring home uneaten food after a long weekend and it's still perfect whereas in the past it was thrown out because it was marginal. The 3-way is used as the prechill/reserve - stocked with drinks and stuff we don't need everyday.

We were lucky in picking up a secondhand Autofridge (which has proven itself to be very efficient) very cheaply and with the 110AH standard battery in the Disco meant that we didn't have the expense of a dual setup.

The Autofridge is now the drinks fridge at home so is always ready to go. I don't think we'll be ever taking the esky on a trip again.

AnswerID: 109540

Reply By: Mainey (WA) - Wednesday, May 04, 2005 at 23:00

Wednesday, May 04, 2005 at 23:00
borrow an esky from some one and try it out for yourself...

fill it with food for only three days, then put in the required amount of ice to keep it all cool and use it at home, yes instead of the 'kelvinator' see how long you can put up with it and not revert to an electric fridge?
See what you think about the fact that when the ice melts and gets into the meat and the vegies, and yes, you do have to keep taking the esky out of the vehicle every day to get rid of the slurry of contaminated solution your food is now sloshing around in... yes, you have to work to keep the food cool, a full esky of ice and food is heavy.

I can print this as fact because I have used an Evakool esky (yes is posted in archives) on a trip from Perth to Kununurra, and I can tell you is a real bugga when you have stopped at a great fishing spot in the Kimberley’s and you have to drive for more than half a day “only” to get some ice for the #@%&$ esky... and not to mention the cost of fuel, wear n tear and the total inconvenience.

In my own opinion, they are good to take to the footy, if you have ice available, and if ice is available then you are not in the bush at all....

Consider a preloved fridge from someone who is selling his and now upsizing, you may need at least 50 Ltrs, not a 39Lt toy, and beware, some fridge manufacturers quote some pretty ridiculous numbers for fridge capacities, they use the exterior dimension, including the area taken up by the compressor, like the 50Ltr brand XXX that is actually 35Ltrs, according to their own web site.
AnswerID: 109720

Reply By: gone bush - Thursday, May 05, 2005 at 17:58

Thursday, May 05, 2005 at 17:58
hi, thought i'd put in my 2 cents worth. We have just returned from our first camping trip with our new 3 way fridge, it was lovely not to have everything floating and not that cool in hot weather. we got the repco 3 way for $399 with a freebee rechargable light, our only regret is that we didn't get a fridge years ago.
AnswerID: 109870

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